The Tank › Is a depleted anode rod the same as no anode rod?
- August 17, 2011 at 2:05 pm #16544
I bought a new (to me but actually 20 yrs old) house and I have a well and an elec. h/w /heater. My water tests hard at 18.5 gr/gal with a pH of 8.2, iron at 0.08 and sulfate at 235.8 so I installed a 40k grain water softener. The softener has improved the hardness and reduced the clear-water iron in the house.
I left the house vacant for 6 weeks (with the w/h turned OFF). When I returned I turned the w/h ON and for the first time noticed a rotten egg smell from ONLY the hot water – especially the showers.
Reading other forums and other Web sites before I found this excellent forum plus Web site, I had thought that maybe the magnesium anode rod in the w/h may have been a contributor to the problem especially as I had a water softener. Suggestions were that a aluminum/zink anode rod might help but removing the anode rod completely would help even more (but contribute to quickened corrosion of the tank).
As the w/h may be several years old, there is the possibility that the anode rod may have completely dissolved. If it has completely dissolved, is that now the same as having ‘ no anode rod’ and thus should provide me with the same positive results relative to the rotten egg smell as having no anode rod?
I now also suspect that leaving the water stagnate in the tank for 6 weeks may be the reason for the smell rather than turning the power OFF and I may now need to do the hydrogen peroxide fix.August 17, 2011 at 3:23 pm #16545Randy SchuylerKeymaster
First off, you should definitely check your anode. Odds are you need a new one, and if you wait too long, you’ll need a new water heater. And yes, a depleted anode is the same as no anode.
Second, merely being absent for six weeks was probably enough to give you the odor, no matter what is going on with your anode. Two pints of drugstore hydrogen peroxide may be all you need to solve that. Dump it into the water heater and soon there will be no odor. If it comes back, then you might have an anode problem.
Removing the anode does solve odor problems, but shortens tank life and voids warranties.
Since you’re using a softener, a powered anode would be a good idea. The softening people mostly deny that salt softeners have any effect on anodes and water heaters, but many outside sources and our field experience say otherwise.
The powered anode will protect the heater, but not be consumed, so it’s a permanent replacement.
Randy SchuylerAugust 17, 2011 at 6:44 pm #16546
Is the hydrogen peroxide used in the water heater to remove the smell safe to drink and shower with, or does the tank need to be drained and refilled after treatment?
I’ve read other places that keeping the tank water temperature at 125 to 130 degrees will also kill the smell causing bacteria thus preventing the rotten egg smell – is there any validity to this method?
RobertAugust 17, 2011 at 8:18 pm #16547Randy SchuylerKeymaster
The smell will go away pretty fast once you’ve put in the peroxide, and that will be so diluted that there is no risk whatever. Put it in when you get there. Doing it before you leave is a waste of time. It might help to turn the heater off. Hot water definitely breeds bacteria more rapidly than cold water. Keeping it at that temperature won’t help you any, although it WILL kill legionella bacteria
By the way, I’m answering here instead of the direct e-mail you sent me. So one more thing: you might not need to do anything other than the peroxide. Six weeks is probably long enough to cause odor. If it comes back, then you might want to think about a powered anode.
Randy SchuylerAugust 17, 2011 at 8:20 pm #16548Larry WeingartenParticipant
Hello: In moderation, peroxide is safe. (just like water ;)) Drug store peroxide is 3% and some folks use it for oral hygiene without bad effect. There is no need to flush it from the system as there is with chlorine.
Higher temperature is only a temporary way to manage bacteria which are in the water supply. Steady use of the heater prevents a bloom of the bacteria in the tank, as the bugs get flushed out and cannot build up to the levels needed to cause odor.
Yours, LarryAugust 18, 2011 at 5:54 am #16549
Excellent information – than you for your help!
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